Occupy Tampa rally: "Vets are the 99 percent!" listen11/14/11 Josh Holton
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Saturday afternoon about 30 members of Occupy Tampa rallied in support of Veterans. They marched from their sidewalk encampment by Curtis Hixon Park to Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park, which is home to a memorial that honors fallen soldiers who were connected to Hillsborough County and killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
"Never forget respect for vets!..."
Some veterans who attended the rally want to scale back America’s global military presence. Robert Mello has served in the Marine Corps, and he hopes that veterans will receive better treatment when they return home.
He also would like to see America begin to lead by example, a method which he said is essential to effective leadership.
Yvonne Gougelet is from Tampa, but she lives in New York. She camped out for the first night of Occupy Wall Street, and has been touring other Occupy movements along the East coast. She visited the Occupy Tampa general assembly last night, and was impressed with what she saw. But her main focus has now become Occupy D.C., which she hopes will unite with an ongoing anti-war movement there.
A man named John Sherman is vacationing in Tampa from Columbus, Ohio. He gave words of encouragement to the group. It is his belief that their collective decision making process has the power to change society.
But it has been difficult for the Occupy Tampa movement to gain a strong foothold in a physical space where they can visibly bring these issues to the rest of the public. There have been more than two dozen arrests as protesters have tried to claim public parks like Kiley Garden. Nick Windholz has been arrested for trying to take that park, but said the group has had a change of strategy.
Once they get their numbers up, Occupy Tampa will attempt to hold on to a park consistently. Greg Priem said the general assembly has consented to this strategy.
So far the group has focused almost exclusively on exercising their first Amendment Rights, and risking arrest for a park. But Ben Scharroo proposed that this Thursday the group march down to Robert Watkins & Company, an accounting firm that is home to 39 political action committees. Scharroo said such concentrated political power should be the very focus of their local protest.
Scharroo said the march will start around 8 in the morning. This is a national day of action for many organized labor groups, and Susie Shannon said the Central Labor Council will also hold a rally on the Platt Street Bridge at 4 p.m. Occupy Wall Street will also hold a "Mass Non-violent Direct Action" that same day.